Our scheduled game at Gedling MW was off due to an unfit pitch, so I decided to let Kev make the choice of replacement fixture. Not a bad choice as it transpired - decent game, decent officiating and three great goals.
Uneventful drive to the ground ,except for one incident where a fool in a Ka decided he had made the wrong choice of lane at the lights near the Netherfield retail park, and promptly decided to do a 3-point turn in the middle of the road!!
Arrived at the ground and a half-empty car-park -- very unusual, but given Kidsgrove's league position they are hardly going to have many travelling fans, although it has to be said, the ones that did travel had some great flags and a very loud drum!! Also not helped by Arnold who attracted over 200 to their opening fixture at their new Eagle Valley ground
Noticing that Athletic had scored 22 and conceded 40, Kev reckoned the game would end 2-1 to Carlton - he was correct but only thanks to some inspired goalkeeping from Carlton's Ali Barcherini late on.
Carlton welcomed back midfield maestro Marquin Smith who had returned to Stoke Lane after a short spelll with Blue Square North outfit Alfreton Town. Apparently since signing for the Reds, "Quinny" hadn't kicked a ball in anger. Alfreton's loss, Carlton's gain - this lad is a player....
Missing from the Carlton ranks was winger Terry Hawkridge, who after earning rave reviews recently, has apprently been in breach of contract and has been released.
The pitch was a bit squishy - the recent rain, freeze, rain, freeze cycle of weather is really playing havoc with playing surfaces - even Old Trafford looks a bit rough at the moment.
Carlton took the lead against the run of play on 16, a superb Dean Gent free-kick nodded home by striker STEVE CHAPLIN.
Five minutes later Kidsgrove's right back Danny Smith made his only error of the game - playing the ball back into his own box where Carlton's no. 11 Aiden Brady collected and controlled well enough, but was too slow to react and this allowed the visitor's defence to clear.
It was cold again, and the flask was soon in evidence again...although on this occasion, Kev's coffee certainly wouldn't produce a caffiene overdose. It was so weak it struggled to climb out of the flask!! Kev does not like strong coffee, but I like it so it takes the enamel off your teeth -- it may be a case of a different flask next week, one that is worn on the hip...( hic!) Still had 2 cups though. H-T 1-0
Got a couple of images of Brian "Evening Post" Dennett - Carlton's resident reporter -- it seems he didn't mind being seen with the opposition flags...
The home team doubled their lead with just 11 minutes of the second period played, a corner from the right headed powerfully home at the far post by skipper MICHAEL MARTIN.
Martin nods home Carlton's second goal
'Grove's no. 11 Danny Shelton forced a great save from Barcherini seconds after the restart, then when Grant Brindley misjudged the bounce of a long through ball, Barcherini dived superbly to divert Tom Moss' controlled lob away for a corner. Kidsgrove did halve their defecit on 72, a cracking free-kick from sub TIM SANDERS curling past the wall and the despairing dive of keeper Barcherini.
'Grove keeper Steve Intihar dived well to save from Willis Francis late on, but it was his opposite number Barcherini who took the plaudits with two out of this world stops in added time.
Maybe a draw would have been a fairer result, but credit goes to both teams for their efforts on a sticky pitch and in freezing temparatures....
Not usually one to single out individual players, I think there should be a special mention for Carlton's no.10 shirt, Darryl Thomas - never stopped working and chasing throughout the whole game - forward play at it's best -- well played Darryl.
Best Miller - Ali Barcherini
Best visitor - Danny Smith
Tuesday -- off to the City Ground to see the Florists take on Sheffield Weddlesday - courtesy of A.N. Wallis & Co Ltd -- the first and only visit to the CG this season, thank the Lord...